How To Have The Perfect Day In San Francisco

Only in San Francisco for 24 hours and want to know what to do? Live in San Francisco but want to take someone on the perfect date? Want to have the perfect day just by yourself? Don't worry we've got you all covered with this blog on how to have the best 24 hours in San Francisco. But before you spend an incredible 24 hours exploring the city make sure you rid yourself of any baggage. Leave them with San Francisco luggage storage and go hands-free. 

We spent four days in San Francisco, trying lots of different activities and restaurants to plan the nicest day for you.

You will need:

A City Pass - this will let you on all public transport plus into the museums and on a boat ride
A Tep Wireless - to connect to wifi on the go (for when you get lost)

Your route:

Got your city pass and tep wireless? Had a good breakfast? Okay, off we go!

1. Union Square

Start off in Union Square to take your first iconic tram ride. Also don't call them trams - many Americans don't know what those are (they call them cable cars). We suggest getting the Powel-Hyde tram/cable car up to Hyde Street so you can look down on Lombard Street. Lombard Street is renown as the most zigzaggerdy street in the world with 8 hair pin bends. It was designed as so to reduce the steepness of the hill: this hill is actually at a 27% grade:

2. Haight Street

Next take the bus to Haight Street and stroll along it towards Golden Gate Park. Haight Street was where the hippy movement was born and used to be home to stars like Cher and criminals like Charles Manson. Nowadays it's a fun street filled with quirky book shops and vintage clothes stores.

3. California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is located in Golden Gate Park. You can use your City Pass to get free entry inside - it's a great place to hang out for an hour or two, they have an aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum all under one roof - we think it's worth going for the planetarium alone, which is incredible. Although we don't really agree with aquariums, not to mention keeping penguins, rays and aligators in captivity, we still recommend the California Academy of Sciences for its planetarium and for its Human Odyssey exhibit. We learnt so much about human history!

4. Lunch at Nourish Cafe

Take the bus over to Nourish Cafe - located just outside of China Town. Here you can have the most delicious vegan sandwiches we think we've ever tasted. We recommend the fake tuna.

5. Ms Doubtfire Apartment

Next up be prepared to have 'Dude (looks like a lady)' in your head for the next 100 years. At 2667 Steiner Street you can find the house that stared in Ms Doubtfire. Yes it's a real house not a set, with a view of the bay and everything! Unfortunately you can't go in, because someone lives there (and apparently bought it for 4.4 million)! But it's still cool to see if from the outside. 

This is also the perfect spot to go fantasy house shopping (that's a thing) wander around the streets and pick your favourite dream house. We absolutely loved all the different coloured houses in San Francisco. This one is ours:

6. Pier 39

Catch the bus to Pier 39 - the pier itself isn't that nice (it's kind of tacky), but you're not going to be on the pier for long - using your City Pass you can catch a ferry that will take you right under the Golden Gate Bridge!

Keep your eyes peeled as the ferry pulls out of the pier - there are resident sea lions there!

The ferry is great and tells you the history of San Francisco as you ride along. It also takes you pretty close to Alcatrez Island - which used to be a prison. Similar to Azkaban it's set in a formidable location: even if you did manage to escape, you're not going to get very far with the rough currents and cold temperatures. 

7. Dinner at E & O

You've GOT to have dinner at E&O - it's one of the nicest restaurants we've ever been to. Not only is the food mouthwateringly delicious, the staff are really lovely too. It's not an exclusively vegan restaurant, but once we told the waitress we were vegan, she went above and beyond to make sure we were well fed. We started off with a Green Papaya and Cucumber Salad, Wood Roasted Edamame Beans and Chickpea Fries. All delicious. These were followed by the BEST Pad Thai we've ever had (and we've been to Thailand), which was served with Dry Fried Green Beans. For dessert we had Grapefruit and Pear Sorbet. We drank some yummy cocktails too. Everything was really delicious and we can't recommend this place highly enough.

8. Where to Stay

There are only two places you should stay whilst you're in San Francisco - the Alise and the San Remo. Two completely different hotels in different locations, but both with everything you need (and more) for the perfect night's sleep. 

The Alise is located near Union Square so it's in a great location - you can reach anywhere in the city easily from here and there are plenty of yummy restaurants nearby (including E&O)! It's a really modern hotel with beautiful decor.  Everything is gold! Which we loved, and omg the bed is the comfiest I've ever stayed in. EVER!! And in the past three years of travelling, we've stayed in a lot of beds:  they have a crazily-comfy topper and duvet in something they call the 'naked experience'. They also allow pets there which is something we fully support.

The San Remo is located near Pier 39 so it's also in a great location (public transport close-by). This is an extremely traditional hotel - it's one of the oldest hotels in the city and thus has a really comforting feel. And if you're into ghost stories - this hotel was featured on ghost hunters! We didn't see any ghosts though.. But we did see complimentary tea, coffee and cookies!

9. (Power to) The People

San Francisco is a super cool city with lots of art and start-ups, but that doesn't mean it's not without its problems. Thanks to the tech boom, lots of people lost their jobs and ended up homeless. Combined with the fact that San Francisco is also kind of a mecca for homeless people from all across America, this means that San Francisco has a very high rate of homeless people - 7350 on any given day which means 3 people per street in SF. Which is super sad. No one deserves to be homeless, and it's our duty to help in any way we can. Don't just avoid San Francisco, find out what you can do to actually help. Please give generously.

10. Travelling To and Around San Francisco

Travelling in SF using public transport is super easy if you have two things - internet on the go to find out where your next bus/tram goes from (we recommend getting a Tep Wireless). The other thing we recommend is the City Pass - a City Pass costs $94 and is valid for nine days and gets you unlimited public transport in SF. Considering a one way ticket on Muni will cost you $2.50 (and a whopping $7 on the tram) and  the City Pass also gets you into the California Academy of Sciences, on the Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise and more, this pass is definitely worth it. Not to mention the hassle free way you can just get on public transport and not worry about purchasing a ticket. 

In terms of getting from the airport to your hotel though, we recommend ExecuCar - We went with ExecuCar from San Francisco airport to the Alise and it was the best. We got off our flight feeling tired and grumpy, but travelling with ExecuCar made everything really easy - they met us at the baggage area and took us straight to the Alise door. It will sound horrible, but I LOVED that our driver wasn't very chatty - often drivers are really chatty, and I know it sounds so nasty and privileged, but the last thing I want to do after a long flight is make small talk. Sorry!  But ExecuCar didn't do that and I was really grateful. 

Wrap Up: the Perfect Day in San Francisco

So there you have it - the perfect day in San Francisco, including what to do, where to stay and (most importantly) what to eat. We hope you enjoy your day in SF - let us know in the comments below!

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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